Having a six-pack isn’t the only reason to do ab workouts—your core is arguably the most valuable and important thing to strengthen. It’s the center of your body and it provides support for your back, allows you to keep your balance, and helps to transfer power from opposite sides of your body. These are my picks for the Top 3 ab exercises. In my opinion they’re the most efficient and effective, so they’re a staple in my workout routines.
Planks are the most fundamental of ab exercises for a reason. They work out your whole body while you engage your core, and you can do them anywhere at any time. Depending on how you can hold a plank, you could practically read a book while you do it. Planks engaging the core, arms, and legs. Doing planks doesn’t only build up core strength, it also improves your endurance. There are also many variations to planks that you can try—you can dip your hips from side to side, alternate or hold your arms or legs out, do reverse planks, side planks, side plank crunches, shoulder touches, etc. My biggest tip with doing planks is to make sure that your elbows are directly under your shoulders so that you’re not putting more stress on your shoulders than needed.
V-Ups (aka Jackknife, v-sit, pike crunch)
This one’s a little more intense. You start on your back with legs and arms straight and slightly off of the floor and then using your abs, lift your torso toward your legs as if you’re touching your toes with your hands. V-ups are effective because they target your front abdominal muscle and obliques. It’s an exercise that those with lower back or neck problems will need to be cautious about, though. You’ll definitely feel a burn from these, but if regular crunches just don’t feel challenging anymore, you’ll love v-ups. It’ll really test your core and help to build up your back muscles as well. My tip for this one is to just make sure that your form is good and that you’re focusing on keeping your core as tight as you can while doing them.
If you want to target your lower abs, this is for you. With your back on the floor, start with your feet off of the floor and your legs bent 90 degrees. Arms should be down by your sides with palms on the floor to help with balance. Lift your legs straight up, but keep them bent. Your hips should be lifting off of the floor. Hold for a few seconds, then lower your hips and your legs again until your feet are at starting position. When you come down, try to do so with control. Feet don’t touch the floor between reps. Reverse crunches are actually a good ab exercise to do if you have lower back issues because you’re not putting pressure on your lower back as you do the crunches. I find these much more effective and enjoyable than leg raises, which also works out the lower abs. Tip for reverse crunches: When you’re lowering your legs, keep your feet closer to your butt to make it a little easier.
All of these exercises are used in our Trifecta workouts, so if you ever want a video guide for how to do them, look up our YouTube channel, Trifecta Strong. I can’t emphasize enough how important core strength is. Doing these exercises will help improve your posture, stability, control, etc. All athletes rely on cores strength for speed, power, and balance. It’s also something that non-athletes utilize every day. For example, your core helps to dictate your posture while you’re standing or sitting. Everyone can benefit from good posture. Bonus: if you plan on doing these ab exercises, add 2 more exercises to the mix and you’ve got yourself a workout. I like doing dips and pushups on a chair, bench, or some sort of incline. It’s a fun workout. Give it a try!